Michiana facing real estate crunch

Michiana is facing a shortage of homes for sale. // WSBT 22 photo

There's a real estate crunch in Michiana. The home real estate market is booming for sellers but challenging for buyers.

You may see more "For Sale" signs popping up in the area.

"Like anything else in the free market –- kind of swings with supply and demand, and right now there's a huge demand and not much supply," says Greater South Bend-Mishawaka Association of Realtors CEO Myron Larimer.

Larimer says this is good news for people selling their homes. Many sellers are getting multiple offers, and in some cases, getting more than their asking price.

"It's a very strong market. It's what we would consider a seller's market in that there's a shortage of inventory – about a three-month supply of inventory. And to give you an idea of what that means, a stable market is about a six-month supply of inventory," says Larimer. "A seller's market is anything less than that. So definitely if you're a seller or if you are thinking about selling – now is a great time to jump into the market."

The reason for the demand is a mix of factors. The warmer than usual end to winter kick-started the traditional spring real estate season.

"People don't like to go out and look at homes when it's 10 below zero and there's a layer of ice and snow on the ground. You just can't relax and do that," says Larimer. "With the mild weather people are more motivated to get out to kind of get a jump-start on the spring season."

Experts say more people are also moving to our area for jobs, and interest rates are expected to increase, pushing families to consider buying now instead of waiting.

"I think we have a fairly stable job market.," says Larimer. "The economy is strong. People have a sense that their finances are solid and they aren't having a lot of doubts about their ability to maintain their job for the expected future."

Sarah Hempel has recent experience on both sides of the real estate market.

"I knew it was kind of a seller's market at this point, which is why we wanted to list our home. We knew we'd get more money for it right now than probably we would have a year ago," Hempel said.

Hempel's house sold the day after it was listed, but she and her family are now having trouble finding a new home that fits their criteria.

"I am kind of concerned that we may have to hurry up and make a quicker decision on whether or not to we're going to buy the home just because there are so many people looking for homes at this point, she says. "You really got to scoop up the house if you know it's the one you want. That's kind of intimidating when you're spending so much money on a home. I don't really want to have to make a hurried decision, but in the same sense you almost have to."

The Hempels haven't ruled out a new construction yet if it the process takes too long to find what they're looking for.

"It's not what we really want to do, but we may consider it if we can't find the home that we want to purchase. We may just go ahead and build one that matches the needs that we have," says Hempel.

Real estate professionals have some advice to make the process a little easier: Know what you want going into your home search.

"Be prepared to make an offer when you see what you want in terms of showings and things like that, and be prepared for the potential of having to make an offer at or above list price," says Larimer.

Experts also suggest you know what you can afford and know what your non-negotiable's are in terms of the property.

They also suggest making a distinction between your wants and needs.

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